The team arrived in Zagreb on Sunday morning, just half an hour after midnight. Despite the lack of sleep, they knew they had to be ready for a big match.
A rookie named Dion Drena Beljo arrived by car an hour before training started. Beljo was surprised when he wasn’t included in the call-up, but he was determined to make the most of his time with the team.
On Saturday evening, coach Dalić called and explained that they needed another striker because Budimir was out of action. Beljo felt relieved to finally get a chance to play with his new teammates.
The other players arrived by bus and were looking for a suitable field for training. They decided to use Luka Modrić’s field since the assistant coach Hitrec-Kacian was feeling ill.
As soon as they got off the bus, the boys from Lokomotiva jumped on Mandžukić and Ćorluka for photos, while the children from Dinamo’s open school lined up at the fence to greet their idols. Livaković and Modrić were met with loud cheers as they waved back at their fans.
Despite not having much experience with this new group of players, Dalić was confident that they had what it took to succeed in this match. He praised their hard work and dedication during training in Riga and said that everyone played well together without any injuries or cards being issued during that time. He even kept Kramarić on the field for 80 minutes after he recovered from an injury earlier in the week.
Dalić decided that Livaković – Stanišić, Šutalo, Erlić, Gvardiol – Modrić, Brozović – Majer, Kramarić, Ivanušec – Budimir should start on Tuesday. Knowing that he had powerful subs like both Pašalić and Baturina on his bench gave him great confidence going into this important match against Croatia’s top club Hajduk Split.
Overall, despite some challenges early on, Dalić knew that his team was capable of putting up a strong performance against Hajduk Split and securing another win for Croatia in qualifying for Euro 2020 tournament final against France next year.